A claim was made on the previous thread that the effect of Cablegate, and perhaps Wikileaks’ practice more generally, was to create a “catalytic tipping point”.
Let’s be clear about the fact that evidence of US imperialism and nefariousness has never been in short supply. There is some qualitative difference in terms of the level of hypocrisy revealed, and perhaps in collateral damage to the legitimacy of the state.
But let’s try to work out what the political consequences might be. I take as read the thesis offered on a previous post that there’s no coalescence around an alternative mode of politics, or really of doing politics. Demands that information be accessible, and that the state be held accountable to its citizenry are not particularly radical, at least in terms of the theory of the liberal order, if not in terms of its practice.
I also take as another starting point the truth that the Cables represent the view from the metropole, and the flow of information from its peripheral outposts. What we don’t have, and what we don’t see analysed, is the view from the periphery.
In the United States, quadrennial Presidential elections, as currently constitute, produce one of two results: a more openly forceful or a more liberal administration of the Imperial state. Hence the disappointment in Obama. Writing here as an American citizen, and one who spent a fair bit of time resident in the States during the beginnings of the Obama administration, I think it’s fair to state that the impact of Cablegate in the centre is muffled. To some degree, it’s just the isolated left saying the same things, or it’s perceived as being, and on the other hand, while crazed calls for assassinations and treason trials are at the far end of the dial, the default position is to regard Wikileaks as “anti-American”. Ripple effects in the US itself may be few.
In Australia, the question raised goes to the degree to which our governments, and our state, are deeply imbricated and interwoven in Imperial power. The logical rallying point is for Australia to cease being complicit in ‘wars on terror’, the technologies of surveillance and detention of persons, the use of drones to kill civilians, the distortions of economic and social life in developing countries, and so forth. Yet what we have instead is a series of rallies around “Defend Wikileaks and Assange”, and a deluge of rhetoric about liberal rights, freedom of speech, and so forth, not to mention some diversions about “the implications for journalism” and other such fascinating questions.
I’m not decrying here, or specifying which way I think things should go, but I am interested in some explanation by those who see what’s occurred and is occurring as a watershed moment of why precisely that is; and what the actual political and structural implications are. Remembering, also, that intertubes notwithstanding, the most effective political action is doable from where you stand, and that revelations about Iran, Afghanistan, Israel, Nigeria, and so on are unlikely to signify much here except as data points in the absence of their politicisation in a broader mode.
Maybe I’m wrong; maybe it’s just that my hope isn’t very audacious.